The Loire Valley, which pretty much splits France in two, has been much traversed down the ages, once by Santiago pilgrims, now by Bordeaux-bound TGV trains. It retains a backwater feel that mirrors the river's sluggish, meandering waters, although trade along the river gave rise to major towns along its banks: Angers, Saumur, Blois, Orléans. Tours remains the gateway to the region, not only for its central position but because the TGV links it with Paris in little more than an hour. Angers is at the west end of the Loire Valley, and Orléans is the eastern gateway—both are also well-connected with Paris by train.
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